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Pope Francis at 2016 Rome consistory, when "progressive" archbishops Cupich, Joseph Tobin, and Farrell were made cardinals.Steve Jalsevac / LifeSite

NETHERLANDS, April 11, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A group of Dutch academics are petitioning the bishops of the Netherlands to speak clearly in favor of authentic Catholic teaching in the era of Pope Francis.

The direction of the Church under Pope Francis has taken a destructive turn with regard to Catholic moral teaching, the scholars state in the petition. 

“Still a short time ago, it seemed beyond belief,” they say in the petition, “but these last years we must with perplexity ascertain that under the pontificate of Pope Francis the Vatican has taken a road, notably in regard to questions which touch the essence of the teachings of the Church on marriage and sexuality, that must be called a road to destruction.”

Some 20 signatories called upon the Dutch bishops and nuncio last week to voice unconditional fidelity to the magisterial writings of previous popes, to sign on to the dubia and to protect the Church in China from the Communist regime there.

“The priests and lay faithful for whom you bear responsibility may rightfully call on you to guide and protect them against the errors in doctrine and practices which at present are allowed to develop and spread,” the petition reads, “by taking an unequivocal, doctrinally loyal stand.”

The petition dated April 4 was shared with LifeSiteNews by a signatory. It had been sent to Dutch bishops and auxiliary bishops, and the nuncio in The Hague. 

The signatories wrote a supplemental letter asking that the bishops issue a joint declaration, the academic told LifeSiteNews, or at least that each bishop speaks out clearly in support of orthodoxy as the leader of their respective diocese. 

The group is comprised primarily of professors. It also includes the former editor-in-chief of the only Catholic Dutch weekly newspaper, Katholiek Nieuwsblad. Henk Rijkers was ousted from his position last year amidst division with the president of the publication’s governing council following the paper having published a number of articles critical of the Pope’s 2016 exhortation Amoris Laetitia ostensibly opening a door to Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried Catholics 

Allowing individuals who are living in an objectively sinful state to receive the Eucharist  — whether they be adulterers, active homosexuals, or cohabiters — is at the root of the controversy surrounding Pope Francis’ exhortation. The document’s ambiguous teaching has divided bishops’ conferences and individual Catholics worldwide.

The petition reminds the Dutch bishops that their role in the Church gives them the duty to caution the pope against serious mistakes and to correct him if necessary.

“Will you join the request for the correct clarification of the controversial passages in Amoris Laetitia as directed to the pope by the petitioners of the “dubia,” the Cardinals Caffarra, Burke, Meissner and Brandmüller?” it asks the bishops.

The petition also appeals to the bishops to vocally support Humanae Vitae as well as the Church’s traditional teachings and practice related to worthiness to receive Holy Communion. It specifically asks the bishops to affirm the “doctrine of the supremacy of Divine Law over subjective human conscience.”

“Will you speak out in favor of unconditional fidelity to the magisterial writings of the previous Popes: Blessed Paul VI, St. John Paul II, and Benedict XVI?” the petition asks of the bishops.

Vatican deal with China

It goes on to request the bishops intervene with the Vatican in the reported impending deal to cede partial control of the Catholic Church in China to the Communist government there. 

Talks have been ongoing between the Holy See and China’s Communist government on an agreement regarding the Church’s status in China. Asian experts have been critical of the deal, saying it amounts to a betrayal of the Church’s laity and clergy there, who have suffered persecution for not submitting to the state-sponsored church. The reported agreement would practically yield control of choosing Catholic bishops to Beijing. A Chinese official suggested last week this was not an impediment to religious freedom.

The petition addressed to the Dutch bishops called this, “the delivering up of the Catholic bishops and 60 millions of the faithful in China to the Communist Government, which is set to become one of the greatest scandals in the history of the Vatican.”

The prospective handing over of the Church in China ended a short list of critical issues under the Francis papacy raised in the petition. The petition also explains that the time for dismissing concerns is past. 

'Too much uncertainty and division​'

“At the onset, one could try to gloss over the dubious statements and measures of the Pope or his near collaborators, in the expectation that the slips and faults were temporary and would be repaired and rectified before long,” the petition states. “Today, this view cannot be maintained any more. Too much has been said, written, and done that cannot be passed in silence; too much uncertainty and division have been created.”

In addition to issues with Amoris Laetitia and China, the petition lists among the concerns the fact the Vatican and Francis hold up “the scientifically unfounded and morally dangerous climate theory of the United Nations, as though assent to it were a religious duty.” It notes as well “the manipulative reporting of the 2014 Bishops’ Synod in Rome in favor of a liberalization of divorce and recognition of homosexual relationships.”

The signatories also mention “the homage to radical-feminist abortion activists,” specifically the Dutch Ploumen scandal, where a Dutch politician and international abortion activist was received into the Order of St. Gregory by the Vatican last year — a pontifical honor given for “meritorious service to the Church.”

They also point out that appointments have been made inside and outside the Vatican of “persons who reject Humanae Vitae or are even pro-abortion, and of advisors and Bishops in various parts of the world who openly advocate recognition of homosexual relationships.”

Also listed are “the concealed establishment of a papal commission to “re-examine” Humanae Vitae,” probable preparations for abolition priestly celibacy and instigation of discussion of female deacons.

“The misguided veneration of Luther and the denial of the necessity to strive for the conversion of Protestants, schismatics or even Muslims,” is listed as well, along with “the neglect of Christians persecuted by Islam.”

The 'red thread'

“These issues are interrelated,” the signatories tell the Dutch bishops. “By and large, the red thread running through them are the errors of Modernism and Protestantism.” 

“Half a century ago, our country experienced how these errors for the most part devastated the once vital Church,” they continue. “But now, after the remnants of orthodoxy somewhat consolidated under the previous popes, precisely the ideas and contentions of the dissident theologians of the sixties and their followers come upon us from the Vatican itself. Therefore, we are under no illusion as to the outcome.”

Cardinal Wilhelm Jacobus Eijk, archbishop of Utrecht, said earlier this year that Pope Francis should clarify the confusion surrounding Amoris Laetitia on Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics. The cardinal had spoken critically in the past of confusion generated by the pope’s exhortation.

The petition’s signers added in their communication to the Dutch bishops that they assume the petition is consistent with the mindset of Cardinal Eijk, “who already very prudently made some public statements in the good direction.”